(March 23, 1904 — November 9, 1964)
H. Beam Piper lived in central Pennsylvania in Altoona. He had been employed as a railroad detective until the 50s when he lost his job. Starting in the early 50s, he began writing SF for Astounding, becoming one of the favorites both of editor John W. Campbell and of readers. By the early 60s, he was popular and his books were selling (though he was still living in hand-to-mouth poverty.) He did not realize that he was on the edge of becoming a reasonably successful writer and, when his agent failed to forward some of his ASF earnings, he committed suicide.
Paracon, a convention held near Altoona in State College, PA, was named after his Paratime stories which had a strong association with the region.
He was fascinated by Charles Fort, and some of his stories (e.g., "He Walked Around the Horses" about Benjamin Bathurst) were based on Fortean matters. He was an expert historian, and the history of war played a major role in his writing. Consequently, his works have been used as the basis of many games. Down Styphon was a wargame based directly on Piper's Lord Kalvan stories, while Traveler made heavy use of the world of his novel Space Viking for setting and background.
(Photos courtesy of Curt Phillips)